8 Health Benefits of Coffee

By , Jason V., SparkPeople Contributor

If you enjoyed a cup of coffee this morning, you have already started the day on a healthy (and possibly more productive!) note. Not only does a cuppa Joe deliver your trusty a.m. caffeine boost, but it also may reduce the risk for certain health problems and can improve bodily functions. Check out the top eight health benefits of consuming coffee.

Increased Alertness and Energy Levels

Coffee contains caffeine, which is responsible for the increased alertness you feel once your first cup has kicked in. Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning that it increases heart rate, respiratory rate and metabolic activity. As a result, more body cells respond to nerve impulses, which improves energy levels.

Stronger Cognitive Functioning

When consumed in small amounts over a period of time (such as two hours), the gradual increase in caffeine heightens the amount of impulses within the brain cells. As a result, the brain recognizes stimuli faster and with more resolve. 

Reduced Risk For Diabetes

Type II Diabetes Mellitus (DM II) occurs when body cells become wholly insensitive to insulin. Since the sensitivity threshold is lowered with the presence of caffeine, the risk for developing DM II is also reduced, reports the American Diabetes Association.

Stimulating Effect on Physical Endurance

A reduction in insulin sensitivity results in fewer cells absorbing glucose from the bloodstream. Therefore, excess glucose is removed from the body within the urine. The decrease in available glucose levels leads to fewer cells becoming engorged, and the body does not store as much excess glucose as fat. Ultimately, fewer fat cells means improved endurance and a greater ability to meet physical demands in general. 

Improved Bowel Habits

Many have experienced the urge to have a bowel movement following the consumption of coffee. Caffeine’s stimulating effects on the body also affect the involuntary muscle contractions within the gastrointestinal tract. Within the colon, increased frequency of contractions, or peristalsis, reduces the ability of the colon to reabsorb water from feces. Therefore, stool does not have enough time within the colon to become hardened prior to entering the rectum. Ultimately, routine bowel movements are an indicator of positive health, and bowel blockages and problems can result in additional health ailments, such as developing septicemia from a ruptured colon.

More Antioxidants

Coffee contains antioxidants, which work to fight free radicals, or unattached oxygen atoms, within the body. When an unattached oxygen atom comes into contact with bodily tissue, the tissue is damaged, if not destroyed entirely. Depending on the type of coffee and its geographic origin, coffee may contain medium to high levels of antioxidants per cup.

Decreased Risk For Alzheimer’s Disease

Some studies show that coffee can reduce the risk for developing Alzheimers later in life, especially in those who drink 3-5 cups per day beginning at midlife.

Protective Benefits For the Liver

Some research, according to the National Library of Medicine, between 1994 and 1998, found increased coffee consumption led to lower risk for the progression of liver cirrhosis. Additionally, people without cirrhosis had a reduced risk for developing cirrhosis. However, excess alcohol consumption supersedes the hepatic, protective benefits of coffee.

From reducing the risk of liver problems to improving mental capabilities, a morning cup of coffee should be considered a step towards a healthier life. Put a twist on your morning cup with these healthy coffee drink recipes from SparkPeople members!